The beeper is an amazing object, and whoever invented it ought to be relegated to one of the lower circles of the Inferno.

(On second thought, remembering in the books the old paging system, overhead, which must have been infinitely more painful, perhaps a middle circle would be adequate.)

This time of year, on a sunny Saturday, the trauma pagers go off with predictable regularity: five minutes after signout in the morning, and five minutes before signout in the evening, and every forty-five to sixty minutes in between. There’s kind of a reflex shrug we’ve all developed, standing in a circle in the unit, when the combined beeps and twitters and buzzes of our pagers, and the charge nurse’s pager, and the respiratory tech’s pager, all go off at once. Some people try to ignore it, and pretend that it’s not their beeper that’s going off. I’m more the type, when other people have their hands full, to pull my pager out and announce at least how many minutes we have before impact (five or sixty – it can make a difference), and perhaps the nature of the injury if it sounds really sensational or serious.

(Although it’s amazing what poor aim the people in my city have: multiple gunshot wounds to the face routinely get discharged in excellent condition in a few days; we’ve had guys shoot themselves multiple times in suicide attempts, and get off with only one broken bone; we’ve had gang warriors shoot everything and everybody except anything remotely resembling a vital organ on the person they were aiming for; I’ve seen more gunshot wounds to the calf than any other kind.)